Picture this: it’s a Friday afternoon, and you receive a text message from a customer interested in a $200,000 piece of equipment. With no phone call and no in-person meeting, you close the deal by 7 PM that same day.
That’s what happened to Dave Shepherd, owner and general manager of Bobcat of Lima in Lima, Ohio. And he did it through the two-way texting feature of TargetCRM, ASPEN’s automated sales and marketing platform.
Dave is no stranger to success – his dealership has been a top-performing Bobcat dealer for years, with a second location opening in the spring. But even he was impressed by the ease and efficiency of using TargetCRM to close such a high-value sale.
We recently spoke with Dave to learn more about his experience with TargetCRM and the impact it has had on his dealership. In addition to quick and efficient communication through TargetCRM’s two-way texting feature, it’s also helped him streamline his parts and rental departments.
What was your reason for getting a text-messaging solution like TargetCRM for your dealership?
Dave: “The process of texting is what’s really good.
And the reason that I wanted it to be through Charter or an ASPEN was that we have all those customers and names already in ASPEN.
We’ve been able to do some mass texting from a marketing standpoint that has been good. We know the value of text, and people want to text today.”
How’s your team using text messaging to communicate with customers?
Dave: “Our parts people especially started using it, and part of that is because they’re younger. When they would get a part in, instead of calling a customer and saying, ‘Hey, your part’s in,’ they texted the customer.
That started training customers to text back, and we were seeing customers texting, ‘Hey, I need this part, can you get it?’ As the owner, I could see some of those conversations going on, so it was being used very much in our parts department.
And even in our rental department, people were texting, ‘Hey, do you have this for this Friday?’”
What results have you seen from using text messaging? Do you have any specific examples?
Dave: “I had a pretty prominent doctor in the area that likes to do construction work.
Over about a four-hour process, we texted back and forth, and I sold him a $200,000 excavator. Now granted, he knew me, and I knew him, and I knew what he wanted, but that process started that day.
I had never talked to him before that time about that excavator. He liked the texting part of it because he trusted me already, and he just had questions, so he’d text me a question, and I’d answer the question. So that’s the good thing about texting.”
How else have you used TargetCRM?
Dave: “Probably the most important thing that we’ve used through Target and ASPEN is some marketing texts. We texted everybody in certain zip codes for our open house, and that worked really well.
We also started a couple of weeks ago texting out a message to everybody that’s in our system saying, ‘Hey, we have a texting service, here’s the number you can call or text, text us if you need something.’
And then we’re going to try once a week to do some kind of marketing to a targeted group. Whether it’s people that may want to buy a lawnmower or people that may want to buy a tractor or something and text them just to remind them.
We don’t want to overuse it – we don’t want to become a pest, but we want to basically keep people in the loop.
I think people respond to text better than they do even emails in some ways.
What was it like communicating with customers before using a text messaging solution?
Dave: “Basically, only through emails and calling them.
I had talked to another Bobcat dealer that was using some kind of texting service at the time, and they said, ‘When we do lots of repairs, we will text that customer that their estimate on the repair bill isn’t going to exceed 1500 bucks. Is it okay to proceed? And they text back, yes, it’s okay.’
We had a customer give us the okay verbally that later said he never did that. I thought if we have a text, we have that digital reminder that we could show him or even maybe take it to court if we needed to, that would benefit us versus just a phone call.
So much of what we do today, whether it’s in aspects of our business or people, everything’s instantaneous, and that’s the great thing about a text. It’s amazing we don’t even have time for an email sometimes.
What other benefits have you seen from TargetCRM?
Dave: “It takes you a second to respond back versus an email or a phone call.
The problem with me taking a phone call is something that I only needed to do that took 20 seconds turns into a 15-minute phone call talking about politics and the football team. And again, it’s a better use of your time.
So, there are many advantages to it. I think we’re going to find new and better ways to use it.
In the wintertime, it kind of slows down, but we’ve had more texts the last week and a half because people are back to doing things, and they’re asking questions, and a lot of them like to ask a question with a text.”
Do you have any advice for somebody who’s kind of on the fence about getting two-way texting at their dealership?
Dave: “You have to do it. We’re not the largest dealer, but I have not found any reason why I would not do it. I’m 63 years old, I’d like to think I tried to stay up with modern ideas and everything else. I don’t want to be this person that just never wants to change, so I’m pretty open-minded.
But I can tell you that four or five years ago, Bobcat marketing people told me that I’ve got to use social media for some of my marketing.
I thought my wife and kids and everybody, they have Facebook, and they do some of that – but that’s not our customer, so I just kind of ignored it initially. Well, I had a younger account manager come in that said, you need to do this, and I liked him and trusted him, so I said I’d try it.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much impact just being on Facebook and some of the social media things and how many people we reached, and the feedback that we got back from it. I feel the same way about the texting part of it. Initially, I thought, this is crazy, but I just don’t think that you can afford not to.
Can a dealership afford not to have an email address? No.
Can they afford not to have a phone number? No.
You can’t afford not to have a texting number.
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